The coastal areas of Tamil Nadu have already witnessed a spurt in nefarious activities by anti-Bharat forces. The recent case of alleged spying by two French journos – Jules Giraudat and Arthur Bouvart, aided by a local parish priest Father Hilda, under the garb of journalism, trespassing in the prohibited high-security zone of government-owned Indian Rare Earths Limited has raised many troubling questions
TS Venkatesan from Chennai
India is one hell of a joke! Here any foreigner can come on a tourist visa, do pretty much anything they want including industrial and corporate spying, espionage or even run jihadi terror campaigns and can still get away from it all scot-free.
The Tamil Nadu Police booked Arthur Bouvart and Jules Giraudat on November 30
Yes! This is precisely what happened when two French journalists, Jules Giraudat, and Arthur Bouvart, visited on November 26, 2018, the high-security zone of a Government-run enterprise, Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) in coastal Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu.
IREL is a prohibited area. Recording videos here is a punishable offence since it is declared a high-security zone. The French nationals accompanied by the Pastor and Anand Kumar allegedly recorded videos of IREL premises. Moreover, then they entered Chinnavilai village to record more videos of the Government property. All kinds of photography or videography are strictly prohibited here.
The two French journalists have been booked for entering the premises of Indian Rare Earths (IREL) Limited at Manavaalakurichi near Nagercoil and shooting videos of the areas where the beach sand minerals are being mined and processed by the Government of India enterprise. The French nationals could be neither questioned nor arrested, as they had already left the country before a case could be registered against them. The French nationals are reported to have left India sans their luggage which raises grave suspicion over their nefarious and anti-India activities in the southern state.
IREL is a government-owned corporation in India. It was incorporated as a private limited company and jointly owned by the Government of India and Government of Travancore Cochin. Government of India took control of IREL in 1963 under the administrative control of Department of Atomic Energy
The French duo claimed that they were investigative journalists and that they came to India on a tourist visa. They reportedly contacted one Sandhya Ravishankar in Chennai who is believed to have helped them with logistics support during their stay in the State.
A local parish priest Father Hilda and the two TV journalists, who reportedly accompanied the foreigners during their visits in the state, are being questioned by the investigating agencies. The IB and local intelligence agencies are now making discreet enquiries about their visit, purpose, and if there were any early visits by the two Frenchmen.
Ananthkumar, a close aide of Sandhya Ravishankar, has helped the French nationals to escape from India after IREL lodged a complaint to the Kanyakumari police. Anandhkumar was sent down to Kanyakumari to accompany the two Frenchmen and be with them while they recorded videos of sensitive places. Police investigations reveal that the French nationals also travelled to many places in North India and had taken videos of sensitive Indian atomic energy sites.
Manavalakurichi police have registered case against Arthur Bouvart and Jules Giraudat and Father Hilda, the parish priest under Section 447 (Criminal Trespass) of Indian Penal Code r/w Sections 14 A (Entry into Restricted Areas), 14 B (using Forged Passport) and 14 C (Abetment) of the Foreigners Act 1946. It is learnt that the Frenchmen came to Kanyakumari for documenting beach sand mining, which is mired in various controversies. They met Ananthkumar of Coimbatore and his friend Sriram of Tenkasi They reached Kanyakumari on November 23. After video-graphing a few places in the district, they went to IREL complex at Manavaalakurichi.
“Despite resistance from the security personnel, the team trespassed into the prohibited zone and continued to shoot videos of the sensitive installation. Since the foreign nationals violated the visa conditions, they have been booked, and the priest was guilty of having assisted them. Journalists Ananthkumar and Sriram are being questioned. If we get evidence against them during the investigation, they will also be booked,” said N Sreenath, Superintendent of Police, Kanyakumari District.
Even before the local police, who were alerted by the IREL officials and could reach the spot, the team left the place. “Sensing the problem in store, Ananthkumar and Fr. Hilda took the French nationals to the Thiruvananthapuram airport from where they went to Mumbai to take a flight to their country.
This apart, what why should the former chairman N Ram of The Hindu come in support of the journalists who are being questioned?
A press meet was organised to support the French nationals and Father Hildas by N Ram. Representatives of the Alliance for Media Freedom condemned the attempts to peddle a ‘false narrative’ on an issue involving media freedom. N Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Publishing Group, speaking on behalf of the Alliance at the Press Club here, cautioned the media against this kind of propaganda.
He said, “M Sriram and Anandhakumar, both Tamil journalists, visited Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari with two accredited French journalists. The two journalists have accredited membership of CCiJP (Commission de la Carte d'Identite des Journalistes Professionnels). They are professional journalists representing Freedom Voices Network Team.”
While underlining that the two journalists should cooperate with the investigation strictly by the law, he said, “We are not saying journalists are exempt from the law. Journalists are subject to the law as long as the law is justly implemented. That is the position of Alliance for Media Freedom.”.
Sandhya Ravishankar, Anand Kumar and Sriram are believed to have offered both covert and overt support to the two Frenchmen and helped them to escape with vital information about atomic energy department. “How can a spy activity be called ‘freedom of the press’ and how can a person like N Ram support such activity which poses a clear danger to the national security?
“Now, Ananthkumar and Sriram are being questioned while the search is on for Fr. Hildas as he has been cited as one of the three accused along with the French journalists. We have not detained Ananth Kumar and Sriram as no case has been registered against them,” a police source said. Rooms for the French journalists were booked in the name of the Chennai-based journalist’s name and address. They offered all assistance like local conveyance, food, refreshments etc. Hard discs seized from the hotel rooms have been sent to the forensic lab.
Now they appear to have got into illegal activities such as helping foreign spies to videography sensitive installations. It is sad and strange that the state and central intelligence agencies don’t give a damn about their covert and over activities. The Palaniswamy administration is mired in deep corruption, in-fighting and petty politics. They are busy fighting among themselves and are blissfully ignorant of the anti-national activities of both Christian and Muslim extremists trying to destroy the very fabric of Hindu society,” pointed out R Govindarajan, a retired central government official in Chennai.
“We have already seen the hand of Christian churches and Naxals behind the Tuticorin Sterlite incident. During the Okhi storm in Kanyakumari last year, the church machinery went into overdrive, demanding relief fund in crores for the missing fishermen. When Aadhar card was insisted by the government to ascertain the authenticity of missing or dead fishermen, their evil and sinister design were exposed. They had, it came to light, sent away the fishermen to other states only to grab a cut off the solatium from the State government,” said a retired IAS officer in Chennai.
Despite their seemingly impeccable journalistic credentials, their mission in Bharat has raised several eyebrows about foreign nationals coming to India on tourist visas and indulging in anti-social activities.
The questions that arise out of this episode are:
• What was the real intention of the two French journalists who reportedly visited sensitive installations in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India?
• Whom are they supported by, when they were engaged in nefarious anti-India activities? Christian NGO’s or energy multinationals inimical to India’s quest for Atomic Energy requirements?
• If they were accredited investigative journalists as was claimed by them, why did they leave the country in a huff, without even bothering to pick up their luggage and computer?
• Why did they book a hotel room in the name of one Sandhya Ravishankar of Chennai, instead of in their own name?
• Why is N. Ram, former chairman of The Hindu Group up in arms and defending the two against the detention?
• How can alleged spy activities be called ‘freedom of the Press? Can Ram send some of his journalists to France to spy on its atomic power plants and call it a freedom of the Press? Who are you trying to fool in the name of freedom of the press, Mr. Ram?
• How can holding the trespassers under suspicious circumstances in sensitive high-security zones of the Government installations be called ‘Freedom of the Press?
• Did they hold forged travel documents while moving around freely in the country?
Now the ‘soul-harvester’ are not only looking for tribal and other ‘souls’ but also looking for ‘hard cash’ in hand! Even Jesus Christ will not forgive who are shamelessly hell-bent on ‘cashing in’ on poor fisherfolk’s misery! “Hellelujah!”